Hell Week Day 2: Get in the Mode

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Erik Bertrand Larssen. All opinions are 100% mine.

I hope you have been following along with me for my Hell Week Challenge based on the book Hell Week: Seven Days to Your Best Self by Erik Bertrand Larssen. I introduced you to what Hell Week is all about, I talked about how I prepared for this challenge and I share how Day 1 went for me. If you want to get ready for your own Hell Week Challenge, order a copy of the book from Amazon. Use the hashtags #hellweekchallenge and #hellweektaomab to share your experience. I would love to follow along with you.

Hell Week Day 2

Wow this was rough! Not because it’s Hell Week, but because I was feeling sick. It started last night after I played 2 hours of volleyball. I just felt nauseous, so I left early (normally we play for 3 hours), I barely made it home and went straight to bed with Lexi, by 10 pm as I am supposed to. I couldn’t have stayed up if I wanted to.

I was hoping whatever hit me that evening would be gone by the morning. It was not. I woke up to the sound of my alarm at 4:45am and sat up. I was still nauseous and sick. My mind and body were awake, I could have easily gotten up, but I realized that in this state I wouldn’t be productive, so I made  an executive decision to go back to sleep until it was time for Lexi to be up for school at 7 am. I crashed hard. I woke up at 7 am still feeling bad but I had to get up and get Lexi going.Photo Jun 21, 9 16 35 AM

After that the whole day was an unproductive blur. I had no appetite and kept making myself eat. I didn’t get as much work done. It was bad.

I am disappointed in myself that I sort of wasted a day, but life isn’t always perfect and I guess it’s good to be able to adjust to off days without falling off the wagon. And I certainly wasn’t falling off this wagon. So once I was able to gather my will back together, I forced myself to shower and wash my hair, which of course made me feel better.

Photo Jun 21, 3 47 49 PM

Soon it was time to get Lexi from her summer camp and I made an effort to put make up on, even though I was just going to hit the gym and return home. My time at the gym was tough. I don’t think I have ever gone to the gym this exhausted and sick. I pushed through an hour (usually I take 2 hours), doing squats, deadlifts, ab exercises and just breathing through it. I was going slow, so I didn’t get much done. At some point after “supersetting” (switching back and forth between exercises without a break) squats and deadlifts, I crawled into the corner with my water and just sat there trying to catch my breath. I had no energy.

Photo Jun 21, 9 03 42 PM

When this torture was over, I got Lexi from the child watch at the gym and we took off to get some sushi for dinner and grab a few groceries. We had fun skipping through the streets of the shopping center. We talked about a lot of things, played games and had fun, just as mother and daughter. I was practicing modes and it was good (What do I mean by modes? See below).

We returned home, I dumped all the groceries on the kitchen island, gave Lexi an iPad and her candy she had been waiting to eat since dinner, and plopped my butt on the couch.

Today was bad, I thought. Really bad. I’m gonna make tomorrow better. And with that thought Lexi and I went to bed.


This is probably one of my favorite sections of the book and most useful when it comes to my crazy multitasking, multiple hat wearing mom life.

Basically, the concept isn’t new, but it is a nice reminder of what we should do and that is compartmentalize and get into modes. Here’s how it works…

When I am with Lexi, I am in mommy mode. Even if I was torn away from work 5 minutes ago, when I am with Lexi, work thoughts and problems step back, it’s all about her. When I am doing laundry, that’s what I am focused on. When I am playing volleyball, I cannot think about personal issues. When I am working, I am in the work mode. It’s such an easy concept, yet very few of us consciously apply it to our lives.

I have to stop and tell myself “Elena, you are now in Lexi mode”, sometimes I have to repeat that to myself several times. When I picked her up from school, I tried really hard to get into mommy mode and stay there. The result was a fun mom and a daughter who truly enjoyed talking to me, walking with me, playing with me because I was fully engaged with her and not thinking about a million work things I need to be doing.

This morning (Day 3), I was doing the laundry and I was in the laundry mode. I know it sounds silly, but damn, there are distractions everywhere. I consciously told myself to leave my phone behind because phones are not required when doing laundry. I need to focus on what I am doing. There is some sort of freedom associated with focusing on one task at a time. I have been the worst offender when it comes to multitasking and I do nothing but overwhelm and overstimulate myself. Why do I need my darn phone in the laundry room? So that I could sit there looking through social media and email, because I would much rather do that than sort laundry. And that’s a trap! It makes me almost mad thinking about it. I am bored doing laundry so I fool myself that I am being productive with my phone while all I am doing is stealing my own time. It’s so clear now that I am writing this.

It is exactly the same with work mode. Work mode does not allow thoughts of dirty dishes or messy carpets. You will have more time for that if you simply focus on what you’re doing.

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the right mode, so repeating what your goal is to yourself and telling yourself what you’re supposed to act like in that moment is very helpful. I will be walking around the house chanting “be fast, be productive, be efficient” as I do things quickly.

Day 2 Conclusion:

I don’t feel bad about having to take it easier than I wanted to, because sometimes you just have to do that, some things are out of your control and there is no point in feeling guilt about it. I feel bad about wasting a day, not being productive. I think I might just extend the Hell Week by one day to make up for this.

I also discovered one thing about my schedule. While I love the idea of a 5 am wake up call and I love how it feels to be up that early, my schedule doesn’t always allow for that. On days when I have my volleyball games, I simply can’t do a 5 am wake up. Since the games start at 6:30pm and end at 9:30pm, just half an hour before bedtime, I am essentially playing into the 17th awake hour of the day. My body just can’t exert as much energy as is required to play doubles in the sand at the 17th awake hour. (Imagine a full size volleyball court. Now add the fact that it is only 2 people covering the court, attacking, passing, setting, and add sand to it which makes it very hard to run or jump. Then add 3 hours of literally non-stop playing in 100% humidity at 76-86 degrees F. That is pretty intense exercise.). Since I can’t move the games, I will move my hours. On the days where I am playing, I will wake up at 7:30 am and go to bed at 12:30 am. This will give me 2.5 extra hours before bedtime, where my body can wind down. I will essentially be playing in the 14th awake hour of the day which is normal for what I am used to doing.

Photo Jun 20, 8 09 29 PM

I will also try to play with it. It could be an off night, it could be my body adjusting to the new bedtime, so I will try 5 am wake ups on volleyball days where I do not care about my performance on the court.

So I far I feel really great about this and I am sure I will continue doing my “hell” week beyond this week. It is the best way to live.

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